Gambling in GAA: A Growing Epidemic?

davy glennon

“I was looking at the All-Ireland final and realising exactly what gambling had taken away from me — All-Ireland final day, which you dream of as a young guy. I had that opportunity in 2012 and 2015 if my addiction didn’t take over my life.”

Galway hurler Davy Glennon’s courageous and harrowing account of his battle with gambling addiction is a sobering read.

Glennon revealed that at the height of his addiction he blew a 10,000 Credit Union loan in a two day spree at the bookies, spening up to 8/9 hours a day in betting shops without so much as eating.

The Mullagh man’s frank interview appears to have inspired others, and RTE today published an interview with an anonymous inter-county footballer who also has a gambling problem.

That player even admitted to betting against his own county in a league game, and claims that gambling issues are “rampant” in the sport;

“You only have to step into any dressing room in any club or county team to see guys discussing it on team buses, in dressing rooms and meetings; checking their phones, seeing what games are on at the weekends, talking about the odds.”

It has never been easier to gamble. A plethora of online apps and websites mean that we can place as many bets as we like from our own couch.

I spoke to an inter-county footballer today who said that, from his experience of gambling in the GAA, “crisis would be a big word, but there is definitely a need for a shrewder awareness of money.”

He also said that conversations in the county team’s Whatsapp were dominated by horse-racing, and that such apps are a hotbed for gambling tips and odds.

Online gambling is everywhere, and the GPA have acknowledged in recent months that it is a growing epidemic in the GAA.

Dessie Farrell, chief executive of the GPA, claims that gambling addiction is one of the associations major areas of concern, stating that “while the numbers suffering with addiction are still relatively small, they are rising.”

Davy Glennon also warned of infiltration into juvenile games, with RTE also noting that “the GAA have formally contacted the Department of Justice to have the markets outlawed.”

Galway chairman Noel Treacy had raised similar concerns as far back as December 2015;

“In essence, gambling is now reaching crisis proportions in Gaelic games.”

According to Treacy, Galway GAA’s Health & Well-Being Committee has been forced to deal with serious gambling issues in recent years, involving both hurlers and footballers within the county.

The evidence suggests that there is indeed a gambling culture in the GAA, and extreme cases such as those of Oisín Mc Conville, and more recently Glennon, shows the potential dangers of a swelling epidemic.

David Smith


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